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Winter Pruning of Trees and Shrubs

Category: Garden Resource, How-to Guides | Posted by: Mike Riesenberg

Why Prune in Winter?

Got the itch to get outside and do something in your landscape? If you can brave the elements, February is a great time of year to prune trees and shrubs. Selective winter pruning of trees and shrubs is beneficial for several reasons…

Selective Winter Pruning

The removal of dead and diseased plant parts encourages structural integrity and promotes vigorous growth. Selective winter pruning is especially beneficial for young trees.

It’s good to remember that selective winter pruning is more about making a few purposeful cuts though, rather than a full-on trim. Save the heavy pruning for shaping shrubs in early spring. Knock Out Roses, Spilled Wine Weigela, Magic Carpet Spirea, and Limelight Hydrangea can all be trimmed for shape later.

So, why prune in winter?

Pruning causes a wound on the plant that can be an entry point for insects and diseases. A wound inflicted by pruning will heal before insects and diseases are more active during the growing season.

A few tips before you make the first cut

  • Make deliberate and purposeful pruning cuts – try to imagine how the tree will look after the branch is removed.
  • Remove branches that are crossing or touching.
  • Make pruning cuts at nodes or where one branch meets another.
  • To prevent the spread of diseases, sterilize tools between cuts by dipping or wiping the parts that make contact with the plants in rubbing alcohol.
  • Wear safety glasses and handle tools safely.

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